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Her sensuality was at the core of her world her uest beyond the civilized stars Aristocrat Outcast Picara Slave Ruler The amazing and erotic adventures of the most beautiful courtesan in tomorrow's universe Frederik Pohl Engrossing characters in a marvelous adventure Charles N Brown Locus Magazine The best single example of prostitution used in fantasy is Janet Morris' Silistra series Anne K Kaler The Picara From Hera to Fantasy Heroine


10 thoughts on “High Couch of Silistra

  1. says:

    A re readI first read this book because my mom checked it out of the library for me She knew I liked fantasy and came home with a random selection of paperbacks this was one of them I was probably eleven or twelve? My mom was not a fan of 'trashy' books and I read this with big eyes hoping that she didn't decide to peek inside Nope she never did and I got all the seuels out of the library later too She had absolutely no idea what she'd provided me withMy five star rating is taking that early experience into consideration Is this a great work of literature? No But it was certainly something that made a lasting impression on me Going back to read it again decades later I wasn't sure how I'd feel about itI remembered the basic story Estri a beautiful woman of the planet Silistra is the High Couch of Astria one of the most powerful people on the planet and also a high paid prostitute Due to their difficulty in having children Silistra has developed an interesting economic system Promiscuous sexuality is expected and status and power is centered around the 'wells' brothels run and controlled by women However this is no 'feminist' paradise a woman becomes a man's property if he manages to impregnate her Childbearing is one of the most important social responsibilities on Silistra symbolized by the twisted chain called the chald worn by all upstanding citizens so it's a desired outcomeBorn into the Well system Estri has no idea who her father is but knows that he was an offworlder When her mother dies she lays an obligation on her to find her father The book follows Estri on this uest And along the way Estri has a lot of sex Of various kinds A lot of it thoroughly non consensual With a great many different peopleOn re reading the sex wasn't uite as graphically explicit as I'd remembered but it was clear enough and really just as racy as I'd thought it was Some of the descriptions especially of the outfits were amusingly 1970's tinged I still found it enormously entertaining Just keep in mind that this is primarily a sex fantasy and only secondarily a sci fi fantasy However it doesn't allow the sex to get in the way of a good story either or to 'dumb it down' The mix works for me If you like 'Barbarella' you'll probably like this seriesMany thanks to Perseid Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the newly released eBook As always my opinions are solely my own


  2. says:

    To truly appreciate the epic scale that encompasses The High Couch of Silistra you need to understand the complexity and profundity of thought Janet Morris incorporated into the historical foundation that forms Silistran societyI’ll summarize what you need to know hereThousands of years before our story takes place Silistra faced catastrophe a catastrophe so severe that all life would have been wiped out were it not for the prudence and tenacity of a special group of people the Day Keepers and the forereadersThe Day Keepers are guardians of Silistra’s history – past present and future – whilst the forereaders are those who have received training in the understanding and management of future probabilities as they affect the unfolding development of Silistra’s eternal destinyThey it was who having predicted the coming calamity ushered a select number of Silistran’s into one of seven specially prepared hides deep underground life support complexes sixty years before disaster fell where refugees would be able to wait for the wounds inflicted upon their world to heal After millennia had passed thousands of survivors and their progeny emerged to reestablish their civilization under a set of precepts known as the “chaldra”Simply put the chaldra is a form of self rule deeply influenced by the circumstances of Silistran society’s enforced isolation and the conseuences of their reduced birthrate thereafter and the eternal outworking of their eternal destiny The chaldra edicts and guides the standards morality and governance of Silistra in all situations and is divided into two broad spectrumsHigh chaldra – those tasks and responsibilities undertaken to strengthen the spiritualinner consciousness of the individual andor society as a whole in relation to the metaphysical outworking of their eternal future and;Low chaldra – that pertaining to the survival and betterment of the mundane individual and the acuiring of life skills relating to material import onlyIt is essential you understand these tenets affect all of the main laws duties and labors of Silistran life – even their approach to sexual practices and preferences relationships and family matters Yes all are determined by chaldric Indeed an individual’s dedication to their society’s wellbeing is represented by the chald a belt of chains soldered about a person’s waist each colored link of which denotes their various accomplishmentsWith the foundation thus revealed we can better appreciate the setting More than twenty five and a half thousand years have passed since Silistran refugees emerged from their hides The emergent population naturally settled in those areas close to the hides Such locations became known as “Wells” – places where some of the highest ranking and most respected members of their civilization made their home Our story takes place as told from the perspective of Estri Hadrath diet Estrazi Estri is “High Couch” a position known formally as “Well Keepress” of the capital city of Astria She is celebrated for her beauty her lineage and the fact that as High Couch of the most celebrated house of pleasure in all the civilized stars she commands a great price Although highly sexualized Well Keepresses are by no means looked upon as prostitutes Far from it for their role and entire modus of operating is intimately bound to the social and moral development of Silistran culture as a whole Don’t forget because of the horrors inflicted upon them in the past Silistran’s still struggle with infertility and shockingly low birthrates To compensate not only have Silistran scientists developed a serum that restores youthful vigor and extends life far beyond its normal span but the couch system was devised whereby the very best genetic traits could be harnessed to ensure future generations would benefitAnd the Well Keepresses would know exactly how to accomplish this through whom they choose to couch for they are among the strongest forereaders in existence and are able to manipulate the very texture of time to select the ultimate outcomeIn comparison to others Estri is young On her three hundredth birthday she receives a silver cube containing a holographic message from her mother who died when Estri was born In it is a video of Estri’s actual conception revealing her father to be none other than a mysterious godlike barbarian from an unknown mystical race Such a legacy bodes well for all Silistra and her long dead mother counsels Estri to reach out to the stars in an effort to find her father and his people in order to claim the full might of her heritageMoved by her mother’s impassioned plea Estri accepts the “chaldra of the mother” and sets out on a remarkable pilgrimage While I won’t reveal the details of that uest here be advised Estri endures trial and tribulation pitfall and peril aplentyand it is here that we come to the crux of this remarkable tale for Janet Morris has skillfully highlighted a profound truth within the pages you will read That like it or not the differences between the masculinity of men and the feminine wiles of women are very real Poles apart many feel such differences will always prove a barrier to true understandingBut in an evocatively subtle way the abuse turmoil and heartrending loss Estri and her travelling companions face underscore philosophical karma at workthat sometimes tenacity and strength of character are of higher value than strength of arm and that it’s only by facing such hardships with determination and courage that a person – no matter what their gender or sexual orientation – can truly grow into the individual they were meant to beLet me say in conclusion that I thoroughly enjoyed this storyA science fiction and fantasy aficionado I cut my teeth on the likes of Asimov Clarke Bradbury and Heinlein I went on to develop a taste for Tolkien Le Guin May Donaldson and FeistJust a glance at this list should hint at the refinement of my reading tastes But such is the way of things that as I grew up and adult life invariably got in the way; I ended up missing a true literary gem the first time it was presented to the world Well better late than neverIn High Couch of Silistra you’ll find the pomp and space opera scope associated with the likes of Dune You’ll find a vocabulary reminiscent of Stephen Donaldson at his best And you’ll discover a flair for worldbuilding few can matchMy bookshelf reeks of uality and soon there’ll be another series proudly filling the little space I have leftBravo Janet Morris a true fantasy classic that sets the bar at a height few will ever reach


  3. says:

    So where to start? As one would expect from Janet Morris there is a lot to this story than a simple science fiction tale Firstly the protagonist is a woman and a strong one at that Estri is not your screaming maiden waiting to be rescued She’s a feisty woman who knows her worth knows her skills and her failings and above all she knows herself Estri is than a woman of pleasure – for on her world this is no shameful profession As Well Keepress she is much sought after and highly skilled but she is also teacher student lover friend fighter diplomat businesswoman a slave mistress and so much Silistra is a world of contrasts – its people long lived its terrain in places inhospitable and its morals unusual Fertility is everything in a world where the people rarely breed successfully Duty or Chaldra is everything – be that duty to oneself one’s people or the world in general A world misunderstood by the others but attractive for many reasons not least its Well Women must stand for its uniueness and protect its beliefs In many ways Estri is Silistra – wise with hidden dangers intriguing alluring complex and misunderstood Duty power sex the complexities of relationships between men and women and how they can change fate courage loyalty betrayal personal journeys fear and adventure fill every chapter The sex is not overdone considering the context and although there is violence that too speaks of the power play which is core The world building as with Morris’s other novels is rich complex and totally believable For the duration of the tale Silistra is real The characters too are a mix of good and bad but no way clear cut These are living breathing characters with all that entailsThis is not a book for those of a faint heart or who cannot see deep within a tale for what lies therein It’s a book to make the reader think It's a book of great stature and storytelling of the finest sort Of course it’s also a book for those who seek a heady adventure beyond the starsI couldn't put this down


  4. says:

    What a remarkable feminist text The fact that this was originally published in 1977 is absolutely astounding I found this book to be similar and far superior to the oft praised The Handmaid's Tale published in 1985 In my opinion The Handmaid's Tale is a very masculine interpretation of femininity which includes absolute sexual domination High Couch on the other hand explores the idea of female dominance through sexualityI can only imagine what it must have been like to read this in 1977 There are some very complex scenes where the protagonist is essentially raped these moments are not given in graphic detail but are merely plot elements However these scenes are highly ambiguous and even the character's interpretations of these moments will have you contemplating them for days The author Janet Morris has created a time capsule which demonstrates the mindset of powerful women back in 1977 The surprise is that the mindset revealed is not so different than the modern one I think that only recently has our cultural perspective evolved enough to give this novel its due Less perceptive readers will probably not even be able to recognize this book as a feminist text even todaymuch less in 1977 However I feel that this book is even important than The Handmaid's Tale Perhaps we'll see High Couch in college courses in another 50 years or so that it would eventually displace Handmaid's is inevitable in my opinion I also caught a bit of the same vibe I experienced when reading Dune originally published in 1968 On an SF level there is magic here and the world building is first rate However I was far captivated by a talented female author approaching a dialogue of sexuality within a novel written in the 70s Very very interesting workThe writing too is top notch I read a lot of books and usually after a couple pages I find myself skimming while keeping an eye out for the plot points I know are coming Not the case here this is a novel that makes you put off all other tasks so you can concentrate fully on every word Give it a look and prepare to have your mind blown


  5. says:

    This is a novel that changed the game for women characters in science fiction and the women who write science fiction A daring novel for its time that still retains that same sort of power it is a complex and highly intelligent read about one women's uest in the far future to find her father and her own identity to find her destiny and make a difference in her world to be a catalyst for change Herein Janet Morris deals with issues of women's euality to men their sexuality the power of it and how in the simplest of terms beauty brains and sex can make a combination as potent as any nuclear blast If memory serves I think this novel was first promoted as a new breed of Sword and Planet and later it was labeled Sword and Romance What it is at its core is speculative fiction futurist fiction that takes a serious hard look at the universe surrounding it and the main character of Estri and her place in it She is an aristocrat who becomes and outcast then a slave then a ruler Like all of Morris' books there is a lot to think about in High Couch of Silistra uestions of philosophy sociology sexuality and governmental rule Action and adventure? There is plenty of that But this book was also carefully devised and structured well plotted and deeply thought out This is not a book for kids or for readers looking for a simple pulp action space adventure The issues are real the characters are real and you will either find yourself agreeing with the politics and point of view; themes and uestions will provoke careful consideration in the reader and the story will make you think Is the sexual content explicit or not? I don't think so but you be the judge of that I think Morris has handled the violence and sexuality was just the right touch as she always manages to do This book was ahead of its time upon its first publication and while we have caught up to certain aspects of this novel society still has a long way to go and much of what passes for science fiction these days is still lagging far behind this novel In my opinion it has not aged at all and holds up even better than I had expected a fitting tribute to a writer who books never grow old or outdated


  6. says:

    Janet E Morris’s High Couch of Silistra is Intense Sex Infused Fantasy for Thoughtful ReadersIn 1977 an intellectual female author wrote a debut fantasysci fi novel featuring a heroine in a dystopic alien world striving to discover her mysterious past god like ancestry; in 2015 her debut novel was reprinted Some may assume I am referring to Tanith Lee who passed away recently; her 1975 debut The Birthgrave was reprinted in 1977 and this year which I just readenjoyedreviewed However I am referring to Janet Morris’s 1977 High Couch of Silistra; this reviews her ‘author’s cut’ version coincidentally released this year Janet Morris’s style is uite different that Lee’s though fans of the Birthgrave would certainly devour High CouchIntense Sex One would wrongly assume that High Couch of Silistra is purely a 1970 feminist movement book; the role of sex rape and fertility is posited to make the reader tense The protagonist Estri is a woman of Silistran origin alien with human form and most Silistran’s are reliant on humans to become impregnated which is a rare event The culture and expectations of purchased sex often brutal but sometimes passionate are constantly present Somehow Janet Morris manages to write all this erotic infused adventure in an intellectual almost dispassionate voice This is not shallow romancesoft pornography Nor is High Couch of Silistra gratuitous whoring This is mature rated engaging fantasyTension Without spoiling note that characters watch their parents have intercourse men rape other men and woman lust after men who abuse them In real life these situations would appall me My test for rationalizing my comfort level and reading onward was if Estri tolerated her predicaments then so should I The constant tension between the book’s acceptable behavior and today’s societal norms took me beyond reading the story It made reading this than adventure It made me think Janet Morris’s intent was to play with controversial sexual and societal themes; she delivered with Estri’s journey full of codependent genders races an intricate alien world and psychedelic magic Cover Art Interview In Janet Morris’s 2014 interview on Beauty in Weird Fiction she said that “Human extravagances and limitations are what for me Silistra is about but it is not a series for the erotically averse or the intellectually timid” As a readerreviewer I could not agree with that self assessment In that interview she also noted her dislike of the 1977 cover art Boris Vallejo that depicted Estri with a brass bra and Gucci boots For the author’s cut she employed artist Roy Mauritsen who presented a intellectual design for the Silsitra uartet by dividing the Dancing Maenad in a Roman relief over the four books photo by Ana Belén Cantero Paz Genre Theme This futuristic dystopian world has science fiction elements spacetime travel some technology but leans toward fantasy alien beasts with hybridmythological designs; sorcery like telepathymind reading; fighting that is meleeblade focused Ubiuitous themes of procreation fertility and “shaping” the world add depth The Silstra uartet seriesThe series continues the remaining three presumably to be released in the near future since the covers are designed


  7. says:

    High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris Wow I happily received an ARC in exchange for an honest review I have to say it was uniuely interesting and found it hard to put down The well written main character Estri Hadrath Diet Estrazi reeks of sexuality She runs into many complex situations some of which are uite violent “Silistra was the catalyst to the sexual revolution in the year twenty two thousand seven hundred and four Bipedal Federate Standard Time” That line alone grabbed my attention right from the start I'm not one to give out spoilers as plenty of other reviewers have fleshed it out uite well But if you love sci fi fantasy eroticism violence and adventure you won't want to miss this one It will not disappoint This is book one in a uartet and looking forward to book two I give it high marks and wish I could give


  8. says:

    Janet E Morris’s High Couch of Silistra is Intense Sex Infused Fantasy for Thoughtful Readers In 1977 an intellectual female author wrote a debut fantasysci fi novel featuring a heroine in a dystopic alien world striving to discover her mysterious past god like ancestry; in 2015 her debut novel was reprinted Some may assume I am referring to Tanith Lee who passed away recently; her 1975 debut The Birthgrave was reprinted in 1977 and this year which I just readenjoyedreviewed However I am referring to Janet Morris’s 1977 High Couch of Silistra; this reviews her ‘author’s cut’ version coincidentally released this year Janet Morris’s style is uite different that Lee’s though fans of the Birthgrave would certainly devour High CouchIntense Sex One would wrongly assume that High Couch of Silistra is a 1970 feminist movement book; the role of sex rape and fertility is posited to make the reader tense The protagonist Estri is a woman of Silistran origin alien with human form and most Silistran’s are reliant on humans to become impregnated which is a rare event The culture and expectations of purchased sex often brutal but sometimes passionate are constantly present Somehow Janet Morris manages to write all this erotic infused adventure in an intellectual almost dispassionate voice This is not shallow romancesoft pornography Nor is High Couch of Silistragratuitous whoring This is mature rated engaging fantasyTension Without spoiling note that characters watch their parents have intercourse men rape other men and woman lust after men who abuse them In real life these situations would appall me My test for rationalizing my comfort level and reading onward was if Estri tolerated her predicaments then so should I The constant tension between the book’s acceptable behavior and today’s societal norms took me beyond reading the story It made reading this than adventure It made me think Janet Morris’s intent was to play with controversial sexual and societal themes; she delivered with Estri’s journey full of codependent genders races an intricate alien world and psychedelic magic Cover Art Interview In Janet Morris’s 2014 interview on Beauty in Weird Fiction she said that “Human extravagances and limitations are what for me Silistra is about but it is not a series for the erotically averse or the intellectually timid” As a readerreviewer I could not agree with that self assessment In that interview she also noted her dislike of the 1977 cover art Boris Vallejo that depicted Estri with a brass bra and Gucci boots For the author’s cut she employed artist Roy Mauritsen who presented a intellectual design for the Silsitra uartet by dividing the Dancing Maenad in a Roman relief over the four books photo by Ana Belén Cantero Paz Genre Theme This futuristic dystopian world has science fiction elements spacetime travel some technology but leans toward fantasy alien beasts with hybridmythological designs; sorcery like telepathymind reading; fighting that is meleeblade focused Ubiuitous themes of procreation fertility and “shaping” the world add depth The Silstra uartet seriesThe series continues the remaining three presumably to be released in the near future since the covers are designed


  9. says:

    Best selling Author Janet Morris undresses a violent alien world intimate and familiar met through the eyes of the one woman who’s destined to wield its power Her strength and her deliverance she claims as her birthright Her story a tantalizing seduction woven like the Chaldra promise which feigns to keep her the Well Keepress of the High Couch of Silistra


  10. says:

    THE HIGH COUCH OF SILISTRA paints many contrasts in describing in the character of its heroine Estri contrasts in the ways she is viewed by others “Aristocrat Outcast Picara Slave Ruler” But there is a unifying inner theme that clarifies her throughout the ups and downs of her journey she is a strong willed adventurous woman leaving her family’s stronghold on a mission to find her father and in doing so despite being humiliated or maybe because of it she realizes her true mettle She is undeterred by dangers in this world gone awryJust like all her books Janet Morris writes prose that is beautifully elouent and to make matters challenging in the context of this world her language is dotted with new unfamiliar terms which I had to learn just as if I was visiting a foreign place a distant time I am looking forward to the next volume in this uartet and I know it will farther enrich the musical narration describing this mythical missionFive starsThis book was sent to me gratis for an unbiased review